case studies

Assisting Industry - case studies

Development of stronger polypropylene fibre

Robert Mather has been interested for many years in the reinforcement of polypropylene fibres. In his work investigating the addition of small quantities of liquid crystalline polymer to these fibres, it became apparent that appreciably stronger fibres could be produced through improvements to the processing of the pure fibres themselves. The approach was taken up and developed commercially by a leading manufacturer of polypropylene fibres.

Fostering links between non-competing companies

Through the Technical Textiles and Polymer Innovation Unit which he headed at Heriot-Watt University, Robert Mather was involved in work with a company manufacturing dental floss and tape. Not only was the Unit able to advise on the processing of the products, but it also put the company in touch with a leading UK equipment manufacturer. The equipment manufacturer then installed commercial equipment at the manufacturing company’s premises.

Improving the dispersion of pigments in paints and inks

Paints and printing inks are coloured by pigments, which exist as dispersions of tiny coloured crystals (with a cross-section of 0.1 microns or less). One problem is that these tiny crystals tend naturally to aggregate, impairing dispersion quality. Robert Mather has worked for many years on countering pigment crystal aggregation. He has devised methods of assessing aggregation properties in pigment samples without the need for extensive, large-scale dispersion trials. The approach has also been extended to disperse dyes, used in the coloration of polyester textiles. This work represents an early example of the study of nano-science and technology.

Gearing synthetic fibre processing to meet required product specifications

Robert Mather has been involved in the application of statistical experimental design and results analysis to design fibre processing conditions which meet required mechanical properties in a fibre. The number of trials needed can be considerably reduced, so that down-time in a production unit is also reduced. The approach has been successfully implemented for processing polypropylene fibres on a commercial scale.

Three-dimensional textile engineering preforms

Robert Mather was part of a team working on the construction and analysis of 3D textile engineering preforms, of interest to a leading aerospace manufacturer. These preforms, once produced, are then impregnated with resin. We devised a computer-aided design system in which the engineering performance of a textile/resin component can be better predicted from known fabric construction and performance, and from the properties of the resin.

Gas Plasma Treatment of Textiles

Gas plasma treatments can be given to textiles to alter their surface character, without changing their bulk properties. Although still very novel on a commercial scale, the technology is now beginning to offer an alternative approach to coatings technology. A particular strength of gas plasma treatment is that it is a dry, "clean" technology, which operates in a closed system. Robert Mather has been active in the gas plasma treatment of textiles at the Biomedical Textiles Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University. The use of gas plasma treatments to enhance and sustain the attachment of cells in the body to the surfaces of biomedical textiles has been demonstrated. Arising from this work, one research group at a leading UK medical school is now exploiting gas plasma treatments.

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Last updated: Fri, December 06, 2013
Created: January 22, 2004

 
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